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Shibai Ukie by Masanobu Okumura, depicting the Kanbuki theater Ichimura-za in its early days
Politics
To understand just how terrible the fiscal deal is for the Democrats and for the country, you have to start with the realization that we shouldn't even be talking about deficits. We are in a demand crisis, and that means we should be focused on creating jobs and building the economy, taking people from need to opportunity, and from needing government benefits to being taxpayers. Paul Krugman warned about it almost exactly three years ago, before deficit madness had even begun:
The next G.D.P. report is likely to show solid growth in late 2009. There will be lots of bullish commentary — and the calls we’re already hearing for an end to stimulus, for reversing the steps the government and the Federal Reserve took to prop up the economy, will grow even louder.

But if those calls are heeded, we’ll be repeating the great mistake of 1937, when the Fed and the Roosevelt administration decided that the Great Depression was over, that it was time for the economy to throw away its crutches. Spending was cut back, monetary policy was tightened — and the economy promptly plunged back into the depths.

The Obama stimulus had stopped the economic freefall, and likely prevented a deep depression, but it wasn't nearly large enough to spark a real recovery. We needed another stimulus, not cutbacks.
So the odds are that any good economic news you hear in the near future will be a blip, not an indication that we’re on our way to sustained recovery. But will policy makers misinterpret the news and repeat the mistakes of 1937? Actually, they already are.

The Obama fiscal stimulus plan is expected to have its peak effect on G.D.P. and jobs around the middle of this year, then start fading out. That’s far too early: why withdraw support in the face of continuing mass unemployment? Congress should have enacted a second round of stimulus months ago, when it became clear that the slump was going to be deeper and longer than originally expected. But nothing was done — and the illusory good numbers we’re about to see will probably head off any further possibility of action.

And the effect did begin to fade, and the economy started to stumble, and unemployment and home foreclosures remained dangerously high, just in time for the Democrats to get pounded in the 2010 midterm election. Independents favored the Republicans by 15 points, citing the economy as their number one issue. A month after that warning, Krugman was even more worried:
So why the sudden ubiquity of deficit scare stories? It isn’t being driven by any actual news. It has been obvious for at least a year that the U.S. government would face an extended period of large deficits, and projections of those deficits haven’t changed much since last summer. Yet the drumbeat of dire fiscal warnings has grown vastly louder.

To me — and I’m not alone in this — the sudden outbreak of deficit hysteria brings back memories of the groupthink that took hold during the run-up to the Iraq war. Now, as then, dubious allegations, not backed by hard evidence, are being reported as if they have been established beyond a shadow of a doubt. Now, as then, much of the political and media establishments have bought into the notion that we must take drastic action quickly, even though there hasn’t been any new information to justify this sudden urgency. Now, as then, those who challenge the prevailing narrative, no matter how strong their case and no matter how solid their background, are being marginalized.

And fear-mongering on the deficit may end up doing as much harm as the fear-mongering on weapons of mass destruction.

That was where it all began. We should have been focused on a second stimulus and creating more jobs, and even if the Democrats hadn't succeeded in getting anything through Congress they'd at least have been having the right conversation, and they would have had a strong argument heading into the 2010 elections— that they had tried to do more but the Republicans had stopped them. Instead, the Democrats caught deficit fever, and President Obama decided to play the Republicans' game on the Republicans' home field, when instead of pushing for more stimulus he instead decided to appoint a deficit commission, and then appointed the scurrilous deficit hawks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles to head it. As if anyone anywhere could possibly have wondered what they would come up with.

The fiscal games of the past couple years have proved the basic dishonesty of our economic political discourse. Let's be clear: No one really cares about the deficit. The Republicans never had any credibility on deficits, and now the Democrats have been playing a similar game. If anyone actually cared about deficits, they'd have let the Bush tax cuts expire, then passed the Obama middle class tax cuts. They wouldn't have wrangled over how wealthy someone has to be to get a tax cut that the wealthy don't need, when there are so many tens of millions of Americans who are in genuine need, they'd have said we need to balance the books, and we won't make any excuses. The middle class would have kept their tax cuts because they need the money and they are more likely to spend it, thus further pumping the economy. And no one would have even raised the issue of Social Security, which has absolutely nothing to do with the deficit. You want to know an easy trick for figuring out if a deficit hawk is flatly dishonest? They will discuss Social Security. It's a game. A ruse. A lie.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

Anyone who genuinely cares about deficits would be focused on growing the economy, creating jobs, reducing government spending not by hurting people but by helping them, turning them into taxpayers, and thus solving the demand crisis by ensuring that more people have more money to spend. It can't be said often enough. And don't let anyone kid you that it's about our bond rating, because when Standard & Poor's lowered it two years ago, they specifically cited the ongoing fiscal brinksmanship as creating risk and uncertainty. And even with that lowered rating, U.S. federal bonds continue to sell. Our national borrowing costs are historically miniscule, which is all the more reason why deficits don't matter now, and in fact should be grown as we borrow at these record minimal costs to further pump the economy with more stimulus. That's how it works. You worry about the deficit after the Keynesian stmulus has produced a genuine and sustainable recovery, which helps reduce the deficit all by itself. In other words, the current state of our politics of economics, with its obsession on deficits and fiscal brinksmanship, is a combination of madness and lies. And with the new fiscal deal fiasco, both the madness and the lies just got a whole lot worse. Mark Thoma quoted Andrew Samwick, who was chief economist for the Council of Economic Advisors in the Lesser Bush administration.

So Who Won the Fiscal Cliff Fight?: Obviously, former President George W. Bush. Despite how much he has been vilified in the years since his departure from office, the Congress and the President yesterday decided to ratify almost all of his tax policy agenda. As Joe Wiesenthal of Business Insider noted, "The difference between the Obama Tax Cuts and the Bush Tax Cuts? Obama's are permanent*." Joe also pointed out, quite astutely, that even if top marginal tax rates are not lower than in the Clinton years, taxpayers with the highest incomes are still paying lower taxes because all the tax rates below the top are lower. Who's laughing now?

As Brad DeLong noted, before the Republicans figured out a way not to save Obama from himself, this time:

But by my back-of-the-envelope count, the deal the Obama administration has agreed to still leaves a net fiscal impetus of -1.75% of GDP to hit the U.S. economy in 2013. That is only 40% of the way back from the "austerity bomb" to where we want to be.

That isn't enough to make it worthwhile to make a deal before the new congress. After Boehner's reelection as Speaker and after the expiration of the Bush tax cuts eliminates the U.S.'s structural deficit, the politics become very different...

But unlike President Clinton, who took the risk of the nation's temporary suffering when he allowed Gingrich to shut down the government, and thus prevented much longer and deeper suffering if he had cut a deal, Obama didn't wait, didn't allow the improved politics to take hold, didn't allow the American people to turn their wrath on an already deeply unpopular Republican Party that already was beginning to tear itself apart as it struggled to figure out how to capitulate, and cut a bad deal that only put off the next round of brinksmanship for a whole 60 days. After winning a mandate election, Obama and the Democrats got a one-year extension on some needed help for people still struggling in this still struggling economy, and the Republicans got most of their beloved tax cuts extended indefinitely. The Republicans also got a free pass to play brinksmanship again in just 60 days, with the Democrats having ceded their best source of leverage. The revenue side of the equation has been eviscerated and the cost cutting now can commence in earnest. And if you want to know how well that will work out, all you have to do is look to Europe, where economic austerity has devastated economies, creating tremendous suffering, social unrest, and a rise in political extremism. That could be our future. And it has been telegraphed, every step of the way.

In 2010, we were told we had to extend the Bush tax cuts, or the big bad Republicans would do mean things. In early 2011, we were told we had to swallow job killing spending cuts, or the big bad Republicans would do mean things. In the summer of 2011, we were told that a Super Congress had to be created, to solve the mess that the regular Congress was being so well paid not to solve, operating under threat of sequestration, because it was the only way to prevent the big bad Republicans from doing mean things. And when the Super Congress failed, and a phony imminence was concocted to force a false sense of urgency over a fiscal curb that was hyped as a cliff to catastrophe, the latest showdown became the latest lousy deal, to prevent the big bad Republicans from doing mean things. And every step of the way it has been the Republican agenda and the Republican narrative that has been winning, even as the Republican Party has been politically losing. Keynes is forgotten. Austerity reigns. The only questions seem to be about its extent. On economic matters, Mitt Romney would have been much worse, but that doesn't mean President Obama has been anything close to good.

Many thought the Republicans would save us from the latest deal, by not voting for higher taxes on the wealthy, but they cleverly waited for the Bush tax cuts to expire, then technically only voted for a new round of tax cuts. The highest income tax rates were allowed to go up all by themselves, as the rest of the high income rates would have, if not for the deal; but the Republicans did allow those highest rates to go up, and that was a clue. Just as it was a clue when the Democrats in 2011 exercised a rare refusal to budge, on the payroll tax, and the Republicans backed down. Every time the Democrats back down, we are told it is because the Republicans are just too mean and too crazy and we can't win, which not only ignores the times the Republicans have capitulated, but also seems to mean that it's best not even to try, and Democrats should just concede defeat by saying they couldn't have won anyway. But there is no reason to believe that.

There is every reason to believe that if the Democrats do refuse to play along when the Republicans force the next debt ceiling/fiscal crisis, enough Republicans will split from the rest of their party, again. Just as they might have, if the Democrats had forced them to choose, last week. The Republicans' fiscal follies already were further alienating a nation that already deeply disliked them, and while President Obama finally seemed to be standing up to them, the Republican leadership clearly was sweating. The evidence indicates that there are actually enough Republicans who either are just rational enough to understand their own political self-interests, or who at least retain a reptilian survival instinct; but rather than test that proposition, the once again increasingly popular president instead made a last minute deal that did not need to be made, and that weakened the Democrats' own negotiating position going forward, and he and the party backed away from the confrontation they already were winning, and instead came to the Republicans' rescue. Yet again.

At some point we have to stop asking ourselves if President Obama and the Democrats are really that clueless or that easily played by a Republican Party that is so buffoonish that only a party as buffoonish as the Democrats could keep it politically alive. President Obama is a seriously intelligent man, and his entire biography is a testament to his strength, perseverence, and courage. He is not a dupe. He is not a fool. So how does he seem continually to get rolled by the Republicans, from tax cuts to budgets to the debt ceiling to the fiscal curb? Maybe he doesn't. Maybe it only seems like he does, because maybe he actually is getting much of what he really wants to get. Maybe he really is more interested in cutting spending than in creating revenue. Not because he is a horrible person, but because he buys into a failed but still somehow predominant economic ideology. Maybe the Republicans are his useful fools, the bad cops to his good, in a careful Kabuki that never was intended to pursue traditional Keynesianism and always has been about imposing austerity. The president's own words underscore the legitimacy of the question:

The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.
He said that in the context of refuting right-wing claims that he is a radical socialist, but his choice of framing was revealing. There were other ways to make the point that anyone who thinks he is a leftist radical is a first rate idiot. But anyone who thinks Obama is more of an old school Republican than an old school Democrat can't just be dismissed as a disgruntled purist. Because the president himself has validated that opinion. Some of us didn't like moderate Republican policy ideas in the 1980s. Some of us don't like them now.

We don't know what will happen over the next 60 days, and maybe the pattern of the last four years finally will be broken. Maybe the president and Congressional Democrats finally will stand up to the Republicans, refuse to play their game, and defend both traditional Democratic Party principles and the common good that those principles did so much to promote. We will see. Even Gingrich himself recognizes the danger for the Republicans. As Democratic Party activists, we must be clear on what is and isn't acceptable, regardless of who is offering what. It's about policy, not personalities. There will be rumors and leaks, and none must be believed, but every lousy trial balloon must be burst on sight. Krugman himself has seen both good and bad in the current deal, but he accurately identifies the danger for the Democrats that lies ahead. And given his consistent accuracy over the past decade, it would be foolish to ignore Krugman's warning:

So why the bad taste in progressives’ mouths? It has less to do with where Obama ended up than with how he got there. He kept drawing lines in the sand, then erasing them and retreating to a new position. And his evident desire to have a deal before hitting the essentially innocuous fiscal cliff bodes very badly for the confrontation looming in a few weeks over the debt ceiling.

If Obama stands his ground in that confrontation, this deal won’t look bad in retrospect. If he doesn’t, yesterday will be seen as the day he began throwing away his presidency and the hopes of everyone who supported him.

If the president finally accepts the confrontation that he has been avoiding for four years, we must have his back. The stakes will be the highest and the pressure immense. But the Republicans must be broken of their will to play economic brinksmanship. It can be done. But if the president doesn't stand up to the Republicans in the coming confrontation, the questions will loom ever larger. For what does this president stand, on economic policy? What does he actually believe? Ultimately, the knowing will be in the doing. Thus far, every confrontation has led to the Democrats ceding ground not only on policy but, even more destructively, on the economic narrative itself. It has to stop.

There can be no more excuses. Either we will grow the economy, expand opportunity, and end the steady expansion of income and wealth inequality that started in the Reagan era, or we will continue down the path of austerity, with the same disastrous results that continue to destroy Europe's economies. And if we do continue down the path of austerity, after all we have been through, after all we have learned— both about the Republicans and about the two starkly different economic paradigms— it will be increasingly difficult to deny the possibility that such was the intention all along. And much more than a presidency and people's hopes will be thrown away. The future of the Democratic Party is at stake, and so is the future of this nation's economy.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:00 AM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The GOP only wants austerity (53+ / 0-)

    To promote its vision of a "you're on your own; that's the way it goes; and that's the way it should be" country -- it has nothing to do with getting the US economy on track. (And sadly, some wealthy Dems seem to feel the same way.) That's not MY country-- and it's disgraceful that Dems in Congress are accepting the framing instead of calling the GOP out for what's really going on.

  •  The rich benefitted disproportionately from the (25+ / 0-)

    Wall-Street bailouts (which propped up the stock market), because they own (a lot) more stock/real-estate. Nobody wants to talk about taxing the countless trillions we gave to Wall-Street (i.e. the biggest government rescue in US history).

  •  Debt Ceiling BS (8+ / 0-)

    This president needs to use the power available to him to benefit the nation and its citizens, especially when institutions balk.  Get a backbone, Obama.  Take a lesson or two from LBJ!

    Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

    by tikkun on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:10:06 AM PST

    •  Yep. 14th Amendment. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw
      •  Problem is the GOP would try to impeach him (0+ / 0-)

        for using it.They are just looking for an excuse. Then you would also be involving the Supreme Court. Not exactly what we need right now.

        "The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian... America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance." The Real Ron Paul

        by 815Sox on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:10:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Using the 14th Amend. isn't a high crime or (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Laurence Lewis, Aspe4, dkosdan

          misdemeanor.  The Supremes might be asked to adjudicate the 14th amend question.  I'd welcome their opinion.  Even this conservative court's opinion.  Roberts already stepped out once and said settle the fiscal cliff deal.

          •  They would still take him to court over it (0+ / 0-)

            "The political fallout for Obama would be worse.  Republicans wouldn’t have the votes to impeach him, even though it would certainly be a provocation of Congress that might justify the attempt.  They would take him to to court, though, and courts would waste no time slapping down the White House.  That would cement Obama’s burgeoning reputation as the very kind of “imperial President” that his supporters kept accusing George W. Bush of becoming.  That conclusion became clear enough with Obama’s refusal to seek Congressional approval of his military adventure in Libya, but issuing an EO to override longstanding precedent and statutory law would finish Obama.
            "

            http://hotair.com/...

            In fact, the GOP has already started making noise about it.

            "Speaking at a Tea Party event in a suburb of Charleston, S.C., Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said it would be an "impeachable act" for the president to find a way around Congressional authority to raise the debt ceiling.

            Read more: http://thehill.com/...

            "The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian... America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance." The Real Ron Paul

            by 815Sox on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:31:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  So? Is this about saving earned benefits, or all (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jim P, midwesterner, Laconic Lib

          About one man's career and place in history?  

          Not to mention, Clinton's approvals skyrocketed post-impeachment, as folks saw the likes of now-Sen. Graham for who they really are.  And it'd never get through the Senate, anyway.

          •  An impeachment trial is not a "so" worthy thing (0+ / 0-)

            It would just be a huge distraction that would take focus away from important issues.

            "The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian... America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance." The Real Ron Paul

            by 815Sox on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:29:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Honestly, given the make up of this current (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Timothy J

              Republican caucus in the House, one wonders if impeachment might be about the least harmful project they could take on during this term.

              While people think it was a bad thing that the 112th Congress was "do nothing", it is difficult not to contemplate the lengthy list of horrors we might have seen if they had been as hard-working as Pelosi's Congresses were when she was Speaker.

              We have important and pressing issues, but it really might be wise to think long and hard about the things that might be best left to another House down the road.

              Immigration is one big issue that comes to mind immediately in this category.  The kinds of draconian and potentially very damaging policies that we will see from this radical Republican majority are, frankly, scary.  Immigration is complex and it requires a thoughtful, rational and sensible approach.  People willing to tank the entire American economy because they are insane ideologues or just because they hate President Obama having a big say in such an important and complex piece of legislation - well, doesn't that sound frightening?  I hate to think how many people will be victimized in that process.

              Anyway, if the House wants to spend its time doing exactly what they are trying to do anyway - which is to destroy Obama - and they choose impeachment as their mechanism, on some level that's the least harmful project - even for Obama - for them to undertake.

              It really could also mean the end to the Republican Party as we know it.  2014 would not work out for them, I can almost guarantee that outcome if the Republicans in the House decided to try to impeach Obama.  Furthermore, not trial would be held in the Senate - they would walk away - and the seats in the Senate on our side that are up for grabs right now would be a lock for Dems.  People in this country are sick and tired of Congress - if the GOP continue on their path of destruction, they're going to get themselves trounced at the polls.

              Just sayin'

          •  Also, do you really want a referendum on Obama? (0+ / 0-)

            Again, we have already done it several times. You know the GOP would love nothing more then to start screaming about him again. It would also be a great way to reignite and unify a very fractured GOP party, especially right before 2014. Which are going to be extremely important. The 14th isn't as simple of a decision as some believe it to be.

            "The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian... America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance." The Real Ron Paul

            by 815Sox on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:35:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Enough BS for everybody. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, guinea

    Nothing wrong with talking about deficits. After all, we'd like our kids to hope for good lives, too.

    And...there is nothing wrong with being sensible and asking how best to target spending, instead of just pouring dollars into the hands of friends and hoping for the best, the way the so-called Obama stimulus did.

    Not only does throwing money wildly about tend to produce a lousy band for the buck, but it tends to get in the way of getting support for programs and ideas that might actually do a lot of good.

    There is never a time when it's admirable simply to plow stupidly ahead.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:10:46 AM PST

    •  nice right wing talking points (48+ / 0-)

      and way to miss the many real points. our kids' lives are going to be much more difficult if we don't grow the economy, and we are not going to grow the economy with austerity and deficit fever during a teantative recovery from a deep recession. and no one ever said we should just pour money into the hands of friends- although republicans do love to make such claims, when it's actually about helping the poor and the middle class. but thanks for playing.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:15:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

        •  Holding the President spotless above all else (5+ / 0-)

          is the wish of many. If it means accepting Republican frames to do it, then so be it.


          The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

          by Jim P on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:04:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  hyperbole much? n/t (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NewDealer

            "The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian... America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance." The Real Ron Paul

            by 815Sox on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:32:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Fact much. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              emal, Aspe4, joanneleon

              You missed all the defense of putting Chained-CPI on the table? Giving up the public option? Giving up negotiating drug company's prices down for Medicare? The expansion of the Security State? The protection of the Banksters? The appointments of right-wing/repubs/Wall St insiders to cabinet positions? And previously, the vote in favor of the "small people can't go bankrupt" bills, the Telcomm spying, etc.

              For a very very very partial listing. You might want to read more for a realistic assessment of where some posters are coming from.


              The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

              by Jim P on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:05:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  No not "fact", far from it actually (0+ / 0-)

                But the suggestion that "many" are willing to "accept Republican frames" in order to "Hold the President spotless" is indeed a hyperbolic statement and not a "fact".

                "The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian... America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance." The Real Ron Paul

                by 815Sox on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:14:04 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I just listed a bunch of Republican-based (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  splashoil, Aspe4, joanneleon

                  and -favoring ideas, plans, and actions which Obama has promoted, all in the public record. (To which we can add Romney's health-care plan.)

                  And it's only a very very very partial list.

                  If you didn't see people defending them because the President holds them... I can't account for how you missed that. It's like saying there's no such thing as a sky.

                  Adios.


                  The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

                  by Jim P on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:21:00 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Right, so Obama is turning us all into Republicans (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    La Gitane

                    Most people (myself included) criticize certain things he does and like other things that he does. Most importantly, they also realize that he isn't working with the friendliest people right now. Especially in the house. Furthermore, he has always been a centrist in some positions. Do some of the things he has said concern me? Sure, but I am not going to call him a Republican. Furthermore, lots of the criticism I read is because of certain things he has "said" not actually "done".

                    Honestly, when I hear all of this "He is a secret Republican" bullshit I really do not think of it all that differently then the idiots who claim that he is a "Secret Marxist" or "Secret Muslim". Sounds to me like you are are making the suggestion that "people are throwing away their ideals (freedoms) because they are more concerned with supporting "The Messiah". Doesn't really sound any different then a Republican criticism.

                    "The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian... America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance." The Real Ron Paul

                    by 815Sox on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:42:30 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Thank you!! (0+ / 0-)

                      I feel exactly the same way.  I'm not an "obamaroxr" by any means, but I get really frustrated at the hyperbolic claims of "secret republican" too.  They don't help the conversation at all.

                      Sure, he's not as liberal as we'd like him to be.  That is the result of thirty+ years of GOP media control swinging the Overton window to the max right.  We need another thirty years to swing it back to the left, and only then will we get true progressives in power.

                      For now, let's hold his feet to the fire, and lay off the conspiracy theories....

                      "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

                      by La Gitane on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:28:22 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't think it's a secret that (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Aspe4, wonmug

                      he accepts Republican notions as a part of his thinking. He's been pretty open about that.

                      Nor is it a secret that the Democratic Leadership, the DLC at its heart, decided deliberately and consciously, to absorb and mimic Republican thinking, attitudes, and programs in the mid-90s.

                      They boasted about it! And it was those era Clintonites and a bunch of King Bush the Insane's advisers and heads which he kept on when he took office.

                      Perhaps you weren't following politics then, and don't know how far Dem Leadership has thrown aside traditional Democratic priorities in favor of Republican ones. Ask "why debt crisis [sic], not Jobs crisis?" for one example.

                      Just because almost the entire leadership would be recognized as moderate Republicans of the 1980s (you'll not force me to dig up Obama's video I hope) doesn't mean that they haven't adopted Republican positions.

                      They have. Not every one. Just the ones on Perpetual War, the sacredness of Wall Street, and that every citizen is a suspect. (I take as my litmus test: laws passed; policies proposed; and executive orders. These are all objective.)

                      It also doesn't mean that poor silly voters who've been involved with the Democratic Party and its ideals for 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years (I went door to door in the Bronx raising money for JFK's campaign) have to pretend that seeing the party promote Republican or Republican-lite positions is a positive thing.

                      Welfare "reform" made the position of poor people worse. Banking reform has brought us catastrophe. Even though I like Bill Clinton a lot when I hear him speak, he fucked us over big time. With Republican positions, even with the (D) after his name.

                      A politician is a politician, and policy is policy. Like most other life-long Democrats, I judge things on policy. Many here will adopt whatever policy is pushed by their favorite politician, and go to any lengths to blunt criticism. No matter how legitimate. That's why we see people who continually defend whatever it is the President does, even if it's Republican-inspired or a concession to their goals. Because the policy just doesn't matter to them, the man does, and that's the whole story to them.

                      I could name a host of people who pounce on every single criticism of the policies and the predilections of the President, so it's hard to understand how anyone could have missed them.

                      Hell, there were people here who INSISTED going to chained-CPI over CPI as it stands wouldn't mean a cut to recipients. Simple arithmetic would be overthrown in defense of the President's proposal! This happened! Of what does that bespeak?


                      The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

                      by Jim P on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:04:57 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

      •  Re (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhauenstein, dinotrac
        our kids' lives are going to be much more difficult if we don't grow the economy
        If we grow the economy but grow the debt faster, our children's lives will be demonstrably worse by the obvious math.

        As our debt to GDP increases, so does our children's living standard decrease.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:43:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  i've asked you before (18+ / 0-)

          and i will again: when has austerity ever worked?

          The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

          by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:54:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  When has sheer stupidity worked well? (0+ / 0-)

            Every now and then, you can get lucky, but we've been ignoring millions of unemployed people -- and their families -- for long enough now.

            We need to get serious about putting people to work.

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:04:28 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  try to answer the question (12+ / 0-)

              instead of looking into a mirror. the new deal worked. deficit spending got us out of a deep depression. when has austerity ever worked?

              The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

              by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:10:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  There was that time when Germany (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Aspe4

                enslaved and plundered most of Europe. The resulting austerity in the conquered countries improved the German economy.

                Same thing for the Greeks, French, and Mongols when Alexander, Napolean, and Genghis Khan implemented austerity.

                Wait. Are you talking about just the dealings of a single nation? That would be different, then.


                The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

                by Jim P on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:13:39 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  The new deal did work up to a point. (0+ / 0-)

                World War II made it hard to know if it would have been sufficient to finish the task.

                When did people on this site become such big proponents of supply-side economics?  I thought you guys were a bunch of Not-the-Reagans?

                Here's a hint:  Pouring money blindly into the economy will have some trickle-down benefit, but we are already so far in that relying on dumb-luck to help millions of people who have suffered more than enough so that you can play out your agenda is just cruel.

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:22:56 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  wrong again (8+ / 0-)

                  deficit spending is demand side economics. my opening paragraph calls it a demand crisis.

                  and world war ii WAS deficit spending. that's how we financed the war. take out the war and use similar spending on infrastructure and green tech, and the economic results will be the same. meanwhile, europe is using austerity, and the results are uniformly disastrous.

                  here's a hint: no one is talking about pouring money blindly anywhere. you don't even understand the concept of trickle down. you literally have it backwards. trickle down means giving tax cuts to the wealthy, cutting corporate regulation, and then hoping that creates jobs. it's exactly what we did from reagan through bush. it doesn't work. stimulus, on the other hand, means direct job creation, which trickles up. and it also means not cutting benefits from people who need them.

                  The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

                  by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:35:14 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  then let's go on some infrastructure projects. (4+ / 0-)

              Oh, yeah.  The GOPers don't want infrastructure projects.  The GOP wants everyone to be grateful for minimum wage zero benfitsjobs that service the rich.  

              The unemployed are not be ignored-they are being systematically shoved into another KIND of job, and they should be damn grateful for that, eh, dinotrac?

              If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

              by livjack on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:22:19 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  We've already spent a lot on infrastructure. (0+ / 0-)

                Not to mention so much money on university research that some people worried about  a surge in academic fraud.

                Why not get radical and ask silly questions like:

                WHO NEEDS JOBS?
                WHAT WOULD HELP THEM GET JOBS?

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:24:11 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  tell us (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  joedemocrat, Laconic Lib, itsbenj, Aspe4

                  who exactly worried that spending on university research was fueling academic fraud? this should be most enlightening.

                  and given the number of bridges we have that are crumbling, the number of schools that need to be repaired or rebuilt, the amount of green tech we could use to reduce climate change and evolve our economy, your subject line is laughable at face value.

                  The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

                  by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:37:18 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Don't we have to change the economic debate (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Laurence Lewis, Laconic Lib, Aspe4

                    in the country?  That debate has moved so far to the right since the 1970's. We have gone from Keynesian economics to a very center to center right Rubinonomics?  

                    The media is very focused on the Rubin approach..

                    Today, people have been taught a budget deficit is per se a bad thing. In reality, a budget deficit= a private surplus. If government spends more than it takes in, the private sector including people and businesses have more money to spend helping, not hurting the economy...

                    We just have to make sure that deficit is spent wisely, such as on people and jobs and not just given away to the rich and big corporations..

                    As a member of Courtesy Kos, I am dedicated to civility and respect for all kossacks, regardless of their opinions, affiliations, or cliques.

                    by joedemocrat on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:49:17 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Then you don't consider auterity to be a bad (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Laurence Lewis, slinkerwink

              idea, even as it proves to be just that all over Europe? In what crystal ball (or magic 8 ball?) do you see austerity working?

              "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

              by Lily O Lady on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:41:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The you don't read very well, do you? (0+ / 0-)

                I've certainly said nothing of the sort.

                I would guess that you are bright person.  Reflexive responses don't put that on display.

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:27:06 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm not sure that you were as clear as you (0+ / 0-)

                  believe you were. After I commented, you wrote a comment that states you are not in favor of supply-side economics, which helps to make your position a bid clearer. But statements that stupidity is bad leaves an awful lot unsaid and un-implied.

                  You say don't throw money at things, with which I agree, but money for food stamps and other social programs does indeed provide a real bang for the buck. I do think that it would be bad to continue to throw money at an ungrateful Wall Street, but instead invest in social programs, while preserving those that have been proven to work so well, i.e. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. How about repairing our crumbling infrastructure, a project that has been talked about since Clinton?

                  As for the success of the New Deal, it is generally believed that attacking the deficit in 1937 was probably too soon and caused a dip which the massive spending of WWII corrected.

                  "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

                  by Lily O Lady on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 02:02:51 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That's probably true. (0+ / 0-)

                    I don't have much problem with food stamps.  Even the Romans provided free grain for citizens.

                    Health care is a whole other issue -- we do it horribly in this country and waste money out the yin-yang.  I grew up with socialized medicine of a sort -- I was a military dependent and we got free health care through the military hospitals and dispensaries.  I like that model.  Provide care that works, not care that pays for the Porsche.

                    Repairing infrastructure is a great thing to do, but it is not at the top of our need list.  Jobs are. The two are not mutually exclusive, but 50+ professionals who can't get interviews are not likely to

                    a) pick up a shovel, or
                    b) be invited to pick up a shovel.

                    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                    by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:50:20 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  But they could be trained to work (0+ / 0-)

                      In project planning, site inspection, materials procurement...

                      There are technical support jobs that have the same benefit as the shovel jobs do: they leave actual useful physical entities behind to be enjoyed by the country after the money has been spent.

                      There is no reason "jobs" and "stuff" have to be mutually exclusive. The country needs plenty of both.

                    •  In order to repair the infrastructure you (0+ / 0-)

                      have to hire people to do it. That is one way to create jobs. And since those people are not fabulously wealthy, they'll spend what they make, further stimulating the economy.

                      As for older folks, it has been suggested that the retirement age be lowered to open the job market for the young.

                      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

                      by Lily O Lady on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:33:14 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Again, not a bad thing to do, but...we have (0+ / 0-)

                        already poured a bunch of money into infrastructure.

                        Maybe we should consider other people as being worthy of jobs, too.

                        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                        by dinotrac on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:53:17 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

          •  When has spending money into insolvency... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            soros

            ...ever worked.

            Austerity is painful like eating ramen instead of steak dinners every night is painful. Does it suck? Yeah it does, but it puts you in a better long-term financial position.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:11:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Debt to gdp isn't increasing due to spending (11+ / 0-)

          Revenue losses due to the recession and relentlessly servile attitude toward the 1% are, as they say, killing the beast... or your kids' futures depending on which side you're on.

          More cuts deepens the depression, increases debt to gdp, which is the norquist strategy and has been for a long time.



          Perpetual crisis means never having to say you're sorry.

          by chuckvw on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:55:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Austerity = higher debt (13+ / 0-)

           Look no further than Europe to see how austerity is the number 1 guarantee of higher deficits and debt, due to the recession caused by the cutbacks, and the lack of revenues that inevitably come in as a result.The ONLY deficit-cutting fiscal policies we should consider involve raising taxes on the rich (which history shows increases wages down below by discouraging the gambling and profit-hoarding that's killing our economy) and in cutting military spending (not needed these days and less stimulative than infrastructure or social programs).

             Give me economic  growth, higher employment, and wage increases. So what if inflation gets nudged a bit above the 2% it's currently at? And with the 10-year note at 1.9%, there's no run going on to dump our debt. Anyone who's talking deficit over growth is DEAD WRONG and being dishonest about our current situation.

             We can talk austerity and cutbacks once our unemployment goes under 6.5% and inequality stops being at record levels. And not a moment before.

        •  Who do we "owe?" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kj in missouri, Laconic Lib

          Step back a few paces and then look at this nonsense. It's nothing but a numbers game. And the dealer wins.

          We could be better than this.

          Poor people have too much money and vote too often. Republican platform plank, 1980 - present

          by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:53:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Grow good jobs and the debt shrinks. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DarkestHour, Aspe4

          Crazy as it sounds, when people move off of various forms of government assistance, Government expenses go down; when people have jobs and pay taxes, revenues go up.

          Then, if you subtract the lesser expenses against the greater income, the result is smaller than if those two things stay unchanged, or increase in the opposite direction.

          I know, this goes against all the principles of accounting some of us have learned, and sounds like it dwells somewhere between Conspiracy Theory and Unicorns, but believe it or not ...

          less expense and more revenue, decreases debt. Hell, there's even been times when it creates a surplus!


          The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

          by Jim P on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:10:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Re (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          itsbenj

          Incorrect. The real formula would be

          Debt * Bond Interest Rate * Population / GDP

          That is, how much does the average citizen have to pay back on the debt relative to his income.  And even that is inaccurate, because if the economy grows, you can pay back a larger relative amount while keeping a larger absolute amount. (which is why austerity is such a horrible idea, as it shrinks the economy and leads to the opposite)

          Further more, as the US government is a sovereign currency owner, it can set the Bond Interest Rate to whatever they want, including zero (a.k.a. monetizing the debt). So the whole "think of the children" is basically one big lie.

          In the end, the only thing that matters is that the economy grows so that more actual stuff and services can be produced.

        •  Latvia! (0+ / 0-)

          Let's live on a budget just like a househould...  Austerity rules.

      •  It's still robbery (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brooke In Seattle

        even if the robbers ask nicely and express regret...



        Perpetual crisis means never having to say you're sorry.

        by chuckvw on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:44:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes sir, Mr, Godwin. (0+ / 0-)

        Things ARE going to be much more difficult if we don't grow the economy. That doesn't excuse being stupid while we do it.
        Throw away too much money without getting a decent return, and there'll be nothing left to help all the folks who remain waiting for jobs and hope.

        The government can always print more money, but it can't make it hold value.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:03:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  wow (9+ / 0-)

          not only do you not understand basic macro, you don't even understand godwin.

          The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

          by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:12:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My economics professors would have disagreed (0+ / 0-)

            with you on the macro.

            As to Godwin, well...

            I'll admit to stretching the line a bit with the reference, but I gave you credit for a certain intellectual dexterity. Was I wrong?

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:32:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  your economic professors (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              teacherjon

              must have been chicago achool. but even they understand the difference between supply side and demand side. they just favor the former.

              The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

              by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 02:23:54 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  But I seem to be the only one in this thread (0+ / 0-)

                arguing demand side.

                Nowhere in the thread have I argued for austerity. What I have said is the we should not spend money stupidly.

                When you argue for stupid spending, you are expressing a Reagan-like belief that it doesn't matter what you spend money on or who receives it.  A dollar is a dollar is a dollar.  You simply expect it to trickle on down and to effectively achieve our economic goals.

                I don't believe that.  The whole "free trade" of fiasco of recent years should teach us that much, as well as the increased concentration of wealth in the hands of the top 1%.

                I believe that an economy grows from demand.  I believe that jobs are created to meet demand.  I don't, however, believe, that repairing bridges -- worthy as that activity is -- will cause a broad-based resurgence in employment.  More likely, a broad-based resurgence in employment would lead to both funds and demand for bridge repair.

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:45:17 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  and who in this thread (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bryduck

                  said we should just piss money away? that's a typical right wing talking point, which may be why you got some of the reaction you did. and you're still misunderstanding the concept of trickle down. the point- the demand side point- is to get money directly into the hands of people who need it, who will be most likely to spend it. supply side is about helping the already wealthy and hoping they then will create jobs- that's where the trickle down metaphor comes from- trickling down from the wealthy to the less wealthy. but of course that doesn't work. demand side says spend the money in ways that directly create jobs, don't cut benefits from people who are in need, and watch the money trickle out and up.

                  The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

                  by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:51:09 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Have you read the thread? (0+ / 0-)

                    A whole pile of people seem to argue that we should just piss people away.

                    Go back to my original post and look at the long chain of hissy fits that followed.

                    Here was my radical statement, typos and all:

                    And...there is nothing wrong with being sensible and asking how best to target spending, instead of just pouring dollars into the hands of friends and hoping for the best, the way the so-called Obama stimulus did.

                    Not only does throwing money wildly about tend to produce a lousy band for the buck, but it tends to get in the way of getting support for programs and ideas that might actually do a lot of good.

                    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                    by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:56:56 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  no (0+ / 0-)

                      they're saying that if we have to go through some short term pain in order to save people from permanent pain, it's worth it.

                      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

                      by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 04:02:19 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  No, they were replying to my post with (0+ / 0-)

                        strange incantations of austerity, as if crisis was a magic pass-key that made anything and everything ok.

                        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                        by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 04:55:52 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  well all i saw (0+ / 0-)

                          was you seeming to disagree with, and not seeming to understand, the whole point of this post. which supports demand side, condemns supply side, and wants to change the entire narrative and paradigm from austerity to keynesianism.

                          The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

                          by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:09:02 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Interesting, because the post said nothing of (0+ / 0-)

                            the sort.

                            Inevitable side-effect of our current brain-addled binary politics, I guess: Yer fer me or agin me, and anything else has no place in the conversation.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:51:40 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

        •  "grow the economy"... US consumer spending (0+ / 0-)

          accounts for almost 70% of the US economy and economic growth.
          Austerity will make most consumers poorer, shrinking economic growth.

          This from  the ST.Louis Fed's Jan2012 report

          Consumer spending accounts for a majority of spending in all advanced nations. What makes the U.S. experience of recent decades unusual is that the share of consumer spending in GDP was relatively high already before it began to increase substantially further during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. In dollar terms, PCE's share of GDP in the third quarters of 1977, 1987, 1997 and 2007 were 62.5, 65.9, 66.7 and 69.5 percent, respectively. (See Figure 1.) Thus, consumer spending was a large and increasingly important part of the American economy during the decades preceding the recession and remains so today.
          •  Yes it does. (0+ / 0-)

            But why do you parrot lines that have nothing to do with my comments?

            Aren't you brighter than that?

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:28:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Maybe because you're jabbering nonsense? (0+ / 0-)

              We CANNOT afford to continue to give, give, give to the ultra-mega-super-rich in the vain and foolish hope that they will let a few pennies slip through their fingers for the vast majority of peons to fight each other to the death for.

              That doesn't work, isn't working, has NEVER worked, and has INVARIABLY led to massive social unrest. You're barking up the wrong tree with "Godwin" - think "guillotine".

              If it's
              Not your body,
              Then it's
              Not your choice
              And it's
              None of your damn business!

              by TheOtherMaven on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:08:46 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Who are you arguing with? (0+ / 0-)

                Not me.

                I completely agree with your post.

                My favorite line for national priorities vis a vis the rich is that a healthy economy creates millionaires and lets billionaires take care of themselves.

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:56:14 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Nice diary. (5+ / 0-)

        Will this be the final straw?   Will progressive activists finally throw these so called Democrats under the bus?    I don't want more crappy Democrats.   I want better or none at all.

        What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

        by dkmich on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:11:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  way too many people (3+ / 0-)

        seem to believe all the Very Serious People telling us it's all the result of spending too much and taxing the rich too much. (And that the GOP never ever really did that.)

        (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

        by PJEvans on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:32:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Talk about deficits, for real (9+ / 0-)

      Do what the fed has done and set a target for unemployment. We can discuss cutting deficits starting when unemployment is below 5% for 6 months in a row. Until then, we need smarter deficits, and perhaps bigger ones. The multipliers for different types of spending and tax changes are very different.

      In the meantime, we are seeing Hoovervilles grow, and it's all hidden. After all, 8% unemployment means 92% employment. Everyone pays taxes, but only some are suffering from the weak economy.

      We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

      by Urban Owl on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:30:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Real unemployment (6+ / 0-)

        when you calculate in the underemployed, involuntary part timers, involuntary early retirees, and those who have "left the work force" is considerably higher than 8%. Some of the people in those hoovervilles have jobs.



        Perpetual crisis means never having to say you're sorry.

        by chuckvw on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:49:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, true. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chuckvw, wonmug

          I suggested using the standard rate for the target because the hidden unemployed return to the labor force when the standard rate goes down, part time jobs are more likely to become full-time, etc.

          So if U<5% for 6 months on a row, then things get better for a lot of people who aren't counted in the U now.

          A different U measure could be used, but it's not clear that the increased value would be greater than the increased confusion for those not into thatarticular Econ weed patch.

          And for stimulus in the meantime, decreasing defense spending and increasing money going to people who need it would help the economy even if it's a net zero on the deficit. (Not that the deficit matters. We should be increasing money going to poor people because it is the decent, as well as the economically sensible thing to do.)

          To be clear, I support increasing the minimum wage, a trade-tax for Wall Street, and a lot of other progressive measures, but I think we should grab the deficit talk and re-frame it by doing a Fed and making everything contingent on unemployment.

          Otherwise, unemployment is invisible in the DC show.

          We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

          by Urban Owl on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:17:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  This is no time to cut deficits, but it's also no (0+ / 0-)

        time to throw money about as if it doesn't matter.

        Spend money well.  Spend it to create jobs. Don't waste it so quickly that there isn't enough fuel to get economic furnace going and millions of people back to work, supporting their families, holding their heads up, and daring to have hope for the future.

        Don't screw them over yet again.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:07:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sadly, there's nothing which needs doing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alumbrados

          in the US. If the infrastructure falls apart, well, who needs it to get anywhere, anyway? Everyone's too poor to afford the gas! And there are certainly no new techs to exploit, though the silly Germans, Chinese, and keep pouring fortunes into starting up Kinetic Energy businesses as if such things really mattered.


          The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

          by Jim P on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:18:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I trust that is snark. (0+ / 0-)

            There is sooooo much that needs to be done.

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:33:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So the worry that spending money (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Alumbrados

              wastefully is likely not a major concern.


              The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

              by Jim P on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:48:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Spending money wastefully IS a major concern. (0+ / 0-)

                We have an awful lot of people -- across many ages and many skill sets -- who are out of work.  

                We need to spend money well and not adapt a Reagan-like faith in trickle-down, expecting that the very act of tossing dollars out will generate opportunities for everybody.

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:39:33 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  But you keep blabbering about supporting the RICH, (0+ / 0-)

                  which is THE ESSENCE of trickle-down theory.

                  "Spending money well" does NOT mean giving it to the Big Big Banks - they'll just hoard it, as they ARE doing, and use it to buy up smaller competitors, as they ARE doing.

                  We know what works, because we know what DID work in the 1930's - the New Deal. FDR was not an ideologue but a pragmatist, and he was willing to - and did - try anything and everything to help the "little people". The conventional economic theory of his time almost invariably failed - most spectacularly in 1937 - while the more unconventional and even wildly improbable policies paid off big.

                  And every law and regulation and policy that was implemented to prevent another Great Depression, that kept the economy rolling more or less smoothly along for a generation, has been systematically demolished over the last thirty years. And look where we are now.

                  If it's
                  Not your body,
                  Then it's
                  Not your choice
                  And it's
                  None of your damn business!

                  by TheOtherMaven on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:18:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  No, 8% unemployment doesn't = 92% employed. (5+ / 0-)

        It doesn't work like that.

        There are not 100% of people in any society who are counted as working.

        See some of Meteor Blades' diaries on how the unemployment rate is calculated.

        "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

        by Brooke In Seattle on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:45:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are right. I was being lazy (0+ / 0-)

          The survey asks people whether they are employed, whether they are actively looking, etc. The unemployment percentage base does not include a variety of people who would not be counted as employed because of various reasons, e.g., full-time student.

          I did not take the time to look up all the numbers, but the larger point is that the vast majority of those in the existing or even potential workforce do have jobs. The un- or under- employed are hard to see because of that fact.

          I apologize for using a rhetorical number instead of wandering off to BLS to get the right ones. I have to note that if I had done so, it would still be entirely reasonable to argue with the numbers that belong in various categories. But that's an Econ weeds thing, maybe it should be a group?
          J/k.

          Thanks for posting, I will try to be more accurate in future.

          We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

          by Urban Owl on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:56:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Shadowstats puts the un- and under- (7+ / 0-)

            employed at about 23%. That's Great Depression territory.
            http://www.shadowstats.com/...

            The official stats have me -- a year without work, no longer getting unemployment -- as... not to be counted. There's about 9 million of me as of a year ago, and more jumping out of the pool every week.

            Then there's the kids who never were able to get a job, which is in the millions itself. Never had a job? Can't officially be unemployed.

            Then there's the record number of people claiming disability, as else they'd have no income at all. Those are removed from the official stats, too, if I'm not mistaken.

            Odd, though, how we still have rent to pay and need food and stuff, being that we don't exist.


            The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

            by Jim P on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:24:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly why the focus should be on JOBS (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jim P, dkosdan

              Regardless of the actual numbers, we KNOW that a lot of people are experiencing the Great Depression. While the media, the 1%, and a lot of DC seems oblivious.

              I don't know how to get more attention to the real problem of jobs. My suggestion of suggestion to use the Fed targetting model is all I can think of, but who would listen to my idea?

              I hope 2013 is better for you. I grew up on Depression stories, and in Kentucky, parts of which did not exit the GD until the Great Society came along. Never, ever, did I expect this country to do that again.

              We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

              by Urban Owl on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:36:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I will believe Shadow Stats when ... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Urban Owl, dkosdan

              ...John Williams is transparent about his methodology. Williams's isn't the only person to point out the problems with certain regauging that has been done by government measurers.

              Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

              by Meteor Blades on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:41:07 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Still, the numbers of those who have (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Urban Owl, Laconic Lib

                been disappeared or never added should be easy enough to add in and figure from there. And anecdotally, I don't know a soul -- relatives, friends, neighbors -- who are bringing in any/enough work and income. (One exception a manager at a famous software company, and even he's seen his peers being lopped off in the past year.)

                23% doesn't sound outlandish to me when even the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts U6 at about 15%. Itself a heartbeat-skipping number.


                The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

                by Jim P on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:56:02 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually, it's not so easy to add in... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jim P, Urban Owl

                  ...the numbers missing from the workforce. Which is why there is such dispute over how big an impact the Baby Boomer retirements are having. Is it 1/3, 1/2, 2/3s? Each of these figures have been stated by well-known experts. Obviously, they can't all be right. Likewise on the other end, the drop-off in 16-19 year olds in the workforce. Is that because they're all staying in school or enrolling in college? The numbers for the high school drop-out rate and college enrollment rate doesn't indicate that.

                  But, I am in absolute agreement that the numbers of unemployed, underemployed and so discouraged that they've given up looking are way too high and have been way too high far too long. A sluggish recovery remains reality, which means we aren't likely to see a big improvement in those numbers any time soon, just the slow-go we've seen since July 2009 when the "recovery" began.

                  Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                  by Meteor Blades on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:03:01 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You'd think the NSA could compile (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Meteor Blades

                    those numbers, or any one of the agencies/companies which track everyone's electronic communications. 707. ("707" is the opposite of "LOL")

                    Shouldn't be so hard to get objective numbers these days.

                    There are objective numbers on rise in food-stamp uses, children in poverty, homelessness, etc. though. And they've all be growing as absolute numbers and as percentages right through to today.

                    Hell even in 2005 MacMurty was singing "We can't make it here anymore" referring to both the making of things, and meeting personal needs.

                    So it's been eight years of no political leader pushing Jobs as a Burning Urgent Emergency. And from what I've read an acceptance that it'll be years more before they come back. When we can compete in the global marketplace's slave- and near-slave-labor.

                    Something's very wrong.



                    The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

                    by Jim P on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:16:04 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jim P

                I didn't want to get into exact numbers, or the problems with Shadow Stats,, having committed my own stats faux pas earlier.

                So thanks for stepping in!

                We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

                by Urban Owl on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:01:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  The vast majority of the workforce... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Urban Owl, maryabein, dkosdan

            ...were employed in the Great Depression, too. The issues are many: Why is the workforce dwindling? Partly, it's demographics, partly it's the lousy job market, partly it's technology. There is the issue of the quality of the jobs that are returning—many of those who are employed now who had been laid off have returned to work but now are stuck in low-wage jobs that replaced those higher-wage jobs they lost.

            What we have had for five years are the acute problems of the Great Recession to deal with. But the chronic problems, some of which led to the Great Recession, remain untouched.

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:37:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dkosdan

              Somewhere while reading  about the GD, I ran across the hypothesis that it lasted so long partly because it took a while for people to really SEE what was happening. Poverty tends to be invisible in this country.

              There is at least one difference this time, in that the GD had no safety net at all. The flimsy one we have now is still better than nothing. But it means that the slide from unemployed to poverty-stricken takes time.

              Any structural problems can't be dealt with unless and until we get back to full employment. And there are those who think that we really don't have structural unemployment of any size. The lack of a living wage is not structural; there is no theoretical reason why service jobs should not be better paid. The gains from technology can be distributed in a variety of ways; there is nothing natural or inevitable about the current distribution.

              Can you tell I am a recovering economist?

              We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

              by Urban Owl on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:09:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Talk about stating the obvious. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dkosdan

      Do you needs signs on doors saying "turn handle" or "open before entering"  too?  

      What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

      by dkmich on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:10:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Anyone who doesn't realize (12+ / 0-)

    That this is all part of a big game is mistaken. Republicans are playing it to cater to their friends and trying their damned hardest do divide the American people. Unfortunately, most Americans have taken the bait.

    Also, both sides in my honest opinion, no longer work for main street but for the United States of Corporate America when it comes to the dollars. Sad to say, but so far it is looking like the divisiveness is here to stay for the time being. The only way to win is to make the other side lose or to make the word "compromise" clean again. Unfortunately, it will have to be the former with the way things are looking right now.

    "If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law."-Thoreau

    by mishal817 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:11:17 AM PST

  •  And then the question is: (25+ / 0-)

    if you believe in austerity, who do you believe in it for?

    Look, the 1% has never been richer.  Perhaps they are the ones who should become more austere and give back some of the money which has been stolen out of the economy.

    "To recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." Historian Barbara Tuchman

    by Publius2008 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:11:27 AM PST

  •  the WH should be more Noh than GOP Kabuki (8+ / 0-)
    If Obama stands his ground in that confrontation, this deal won’t look bad in retrospect. If he doesn’t, yesterday will be seen as the day he began throwing away his presidency and the hopes of everyone who supported him.
    And if we do continue down the path of austerity, after all we have been through, after all we have learned— both about the Republicans and about the two starkly different economic paradigms— it will be increasingly difficult to deny the possibility that such was the intention all along. And much more than a presidency and people's hopes will be thrown away. The future of the Democratic Party is at stake, and so is the future of this nation's economy.
    By tradition, Noh actors and musicians only rehearse together once, a few days before the actual performance. Generally, each actor, musician, and chorus member practises his or her fundamental movements, songs, and dances independently, under the tutelage of a senior member of the school. Thus, the mood of a given performance is not set by any single performer but established by the interactions of all the performers together. In this way, Noh could be seen as exemplifying the medieval Japanese aesthetics of transience, exemplified by the saying of Sen no Rikyu, "ichi-go ichi-e", "one chance, one meeting".
    ... kabuki is known to sacrifice drama and even the plot to highlight an actor's talents. It was not uncommon in kabuki to insert or remove individual scenes from a day's schedule in order to cater to the talents or desires of an individual actor—scenes he was famed for, or that featured him, would be inserted into a program without regard to plot continuity

    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.” - Dalai Lama XIV (-9.50; -7.03)‽ Warning - some snark above‽

    by annieli on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:12:38 AM PST

  •  Our entire future as a country (14+ / 0-)

    is at stake.
     

    If the president finally accepts the confrontation that he has been avoiding for four years, we must have his back. The stakes will be the highest and the pressure immense. But the Republicans must be broken of their will to play economic brinksmanship. It can be done. But if the president doesn't stand up to the Republicans in the coming confrontation, the questions will loom ever larger. For what does this president stand, on economic policy? What does he actually believe? Ultimately, the knowing will be in the doing. Thus far, every confrontation has led to the Democrats ceding ground not only on policy but, even more destructively, on the economic narrative itself. It has to stop.
    I will gladly continue to support this President if he uses any and all tools at his disposal to try and stop these economic terrorists.  I have actively supported him in two elections now, but if this--or any, for that matter--President can't see fit to exercise a Constitutional/Executive power if all else fails, it will say to me that it really doesn't matter whether we support him or not. Because if he cannot or will not use the tools he has, how is it that he's "in charge" at all?

    It is time to #Occupy Media.

    by lunachickie on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:14:24 AM PST

  •  Or as Charlie Pierce says, "Fuck the deficit. (16+ / 0-)

    People got no jobs. People got no money."

    Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

    by rasbobbo on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:15:11 AM PST

  •  This is the Democrats' Fault (25+ / 0-)
    they would have had a strong argument heading into the 2010 elections— that they had tried to do more but the Republicans had stopped them.

    Which Republicans? The ones with the Senate minority? The ones with the House minority? The ones who weren't president?

    No. In 2006 Democrats took the Congress, and in 2008 they took the White House. The failure to get a big stimulus, or a second stimulus, passed during 2009-2010 is the Democrats' fault. Cannot blame the Republicans for that. Indeed, the big stimulus that Christina Romer designed as the option for growth (not just the middle stimulus for treading water, or the small stimulus for maintaining recession) was not even delivered to Obama in early 2009. It was stopped by Larry Summers and Rahm Emmanuel - the two Democrats who Obama had just picked to run things, after his landslide victory over the "economy's fundamentals are good" McCain.

    Yes, Republicans would have been worse. Yes, Republicans are more to blame for creating the debt and collapse (and wars, and everything else). But Democrats are also to blame for their necessary votes for all those things. And Democrats are the ones to blame for the failure to stimulate, since they controlled all three chambers of government, elected in a series of landslides to reverse what Republicans had done with the same power.

    It's 2013, and the vast majority of those same 2006-2009 Democrats, including Obama/Biden, are still in the same office. If Democrats like this site don't even blame them for what they did, then of course they will never change.

    The 2014 Democratic primaries should be the most important issue for this site, and all Democrats, and anyone who wants to live in America. After the urgency of possible filibuster reform and other details of starting the 113th Congress, like finishing the debt ceiling and more cleanup of the hideous 112th Congress, 2014 primaries must be the issue most worked on. If we don't get better Democrats, we probably won't even get more. So we'll be stuck with ghastly Republicans, and the same Democrats who've helped them get us into this mess - and stay in it for years.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:16:54 AM PST

    •  Agree (7+ / 0-)

      Time to wake up.


      "Justice is a commodity"

      by joanneleon on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:45:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My litmus test of late has been SS and Medicare (6+ / 0-)

      because I've been playing this game trying to find the Democrat in the Democrats who pretend to represent me.  They absolutely cannot under any circumstances make a simple declarative statement in support of current benefits.  Impossible.  They are mute when they don't have their tongues tied around spin like "support the troops" or "help small business" or "grow the economy" or replace with your favorite centrist weasel phrase designed to everywhere and at all times make 100% totally sure that they stand for absolutely nothing and no one.  If by chance they mistakenly took a stand today their staffers will clear that up quicker than you can say "reform", "fix" and "strengthen".

      Why do we need more of these?

      I know, I know, shut up, send money, recycle, repeat.

    •  Holy Joe, Nelson, Pryor, Landrieu and others in... (0+ / 0-)

      the Senate made a lot of the progress that was needed impossible with the filibuster rules as they were in place then. It is a myth to say Democrats controlled the Congress in 2008 and 2009. Ted Kennedy's death and Scott Brown's going to the Senate made it further impossible to get things done but the truth is a majority of Dems are more interested in Corporate America than Main Street America. They need their money and a place to work after leaving government.

      Plato's " The Cave" taught me to question reality.

      by CTDemoFarmer on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:17:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I will believe that the rich are helping (6+ / 0-)

    the day that they actually have to give something up, the way I have had to give things up; me and millions like me.

    If your response to the tax increase is to ask your accountant whether or not it affect you, then it doesn't affect you and you are not "doing your bit".

    Whether or not the President could have done more is another matter. I don't walk in his shoes, so I have no idea. I do think that he has been a bit too prepared to deal with economic terrorists.

    On the other hand, refusing to allow the country to go into depression, because he simply cannot bear for that to happen is not actually a flaw.

    It all just underscores the need for a Congress that will do the right thing ... and we don't have that.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:18:14 AM PST

  •  Obama wanted a grand deal, grand bargain. (0+ / 0-)

    Boehner's Plan B vote (to demonstrate he could rally the republicans for a coherent plan) failed spectacularily.

    So there was NO CHANCE OF A GOOD FAITH DEAL.  Nothing the President proposed would fly.  So he GAVE THEM A CHANCE TO TAKE SOME THINGS AWAY  with the Senate version.  Allowing the tax cuts in toto to expire was removed in the hope of a tradeoff.  Here is one consolation: 151 Republicans opposed the deal but 80 supported the Senate version.  The split among the Republicans is the best thing that has happened for the Dems, and it will figure in the Sandy relief, and possibly a domestic investment bill if they can get one through the Senate first.

  •  Mid-90s, polls showed Americans were (12+ / 0-)

    sick of the Party Wars, and this was a top concern of voters.

    The Centrist/Neo-Lib Dems embraced this perception, and trying to win over people, took many Republican issues and made them our own. Welfare reform, deregulation, etc.

    But with the President, I think this outdated priority -- "work together" -- has become something of an idée fixe. That he thinks his role is to be The Great Reconciler. A tendency supported and confirmed by his Clintonite (mid-90s), and Bush advisors.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but that's the most positive scenario I can come up with to explain the truly bizarre absence of -- and here in 2013, when voters want Jobs above all else, and have for years now --. a House is Burning Urgency on Jobs.

    By every measure poverty is growing when you count real people, however abstractions like GDP might be counted.

    And nobody in either party -- and I always heard that to get elected you must please the voters -- nobody is pushing Jobs as the priority. Just the Republican debt/deficit narratives.

    We've got more de-mock-crazy than democracy going on in DC.


    The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

    by Jim P on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:22:41 AM PST

  •  I'll believe they're serious when (11+ / 0-)

    they call for austerity for the MIC.

    I STILL want to see Mitt's taxes.

    by Van Buren on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:27:38 AM PST

  •  Republic Politicians Appear With Conservative (4+ / 0-)

    economists and they finish each others sentences. Krugman appears with Democratic politicians and they appear to be in two different worlds. So it is important that you make the case here and I would like to see Democratic politicians make the Krugman/Keynesian case. I did like that Obama's original proposal in the recent contrived crisis had spending measures. It really pissed Republicans off.  It has been one of the disasters of his Presidency that he gave us a little bit of 1937 repeating itself with Bowles/Simpson and the focus on the deficit while letting the stimulus fade. The case has to be made that economic growth is the best way to lessen the deficit and deficits now are actually good for us down the road. I do cut Obama some slack with the deals and the compromises he ultimately makes because we are dealing with crazy people in the Republican party. Do think he would better his position and get more public support if he used Krugman/Keynesian rhetoric. Would still cut him some slack in the deals he ultimately makes because these Republicans ignore the popular will. Best he can do is acknowledge that the deal he makes sucks (he did this in late 2010 but not so much this time)  and focus on kicking ass in 2014.

    •  through mid december (5+ / 0-)

      he really seemed to be telling them he was done with their games. it was beautiful, and they were starting to panic.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:34:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes--those five minutes were really nice. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Laurence Lewis, Laconic Lib

        If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

        by livjack on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:32:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  He Can Tell Them He Is Done With Their Games (0+ / 0-)

        They will never stop playing them though. Popular will is in our favor but it doesn't matter. Milbank had a piece on this in yesterday's WP.

        In a very real sense, the Republican House majority is impervious to the will of the electorate. Thanks in part to deft redistricting based on the 2010 Census, House Republicans may be protected from the vicissitudes of the voters for the next decade. For Obama and the Democrats, this is an ominous development: The House Republican majority is durable, and it isn’t necessarily sensitive to political pressure and public opinion.
        So I cut him some slack. Make the best deal you can. Tell people why it sucks. Set the stage for defying the odds and getting the House back in 2014.
        •  no deal (3+ / 0-)

          if it includes making bad tax cuts permanent, or cutting needed benefits. i do think that if the gop forces a showdown, and he lets them, it will work out the same way it did when clinton let gingrich shut down the government. the public will back the president, the republicans will get more and more frightened, their elders will start panicking, and enough of them will peel off and make a deal on solidly democratic terms. and the brinksmanship will be over.

          The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

          by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:11:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  We Could Quantify What Is A Good/Bad Deal (0+ / 0-)

            We can look back at the summer of 2011 and the slowdown in the recovery to know the cost of letting this madness play out as long as possible. We already have estimates of the slowdown that would occur if the sequester cuts took place. There probably is an optimum point where you could cut the damage that drawn out battle produces and limit the amount of cuts that would severely damage the economy. Letting deadlines pass would hurt the GOP more but would also produce a weakening economy that Obama would be blamed for.  I know that if I ever played chicken with an oncoming train with many here I would lose as I would jump out of the way first. Many trust their timing more than I trust mine.

  •  failed diary. at some point deficits matter. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sophie Amrain

    Obama is for growth and deficit reduction, not just spending money on anything.  A vast majority support these twin goals.  You make it sound as if the only choice is one or the other.

    My best guess was a reflection that did not look back, an image lost in every mirror.

    by Zacapoet on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:30:42 AM PST

    •  more right wing talking points (16+ / 0-)

      no one said we should throw money at anything. and no, you can't cut deficits and grow an economy that is in or is recovering from a deep recession. please give me an example of when it has been done. i'll give you the great depression and the new deal as an example of how deficit spending works.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:39:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The deficit does matter at some point and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto

        your insulting Zacapoet does nothing to disprove this notion.

        Furthermore, while this diaries commenters mostly seem not to care, we live in a democracy, i.e. one has to find majorities for ones policies. Even if a larger stimulus would have been better, it could not have passed.

        And finally, economy is rather more complicated than saying 'New deal!' You would need a lot of analysis before you could conclude that New deal measures, if repeated, would have the same effects as they had then.

        He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

        by Sophie Amrain on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:13:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "At some point" is most certainly not now. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          itsbenj
          The deficit does matter at some point
          We are not dealing with your vague "at some point" timeframe. We are dealing with right now, and the short-term.

          The deficit is not a concern when:

          – Unemployment rate is nearly 8%
          – The real interest rate on 10-year US government bonds is negative
          – We do not have runaway inflation

          You would need a lot of analysis before you could conclude that New deal measures, if repeated, would have the same effects as they had then.
          Huh? Obviously, the effects of fiscal expansion during the New Deal and World War II has been extensively studied. The consensus, among credible economists, is for further deficit spending to lift us out of the current unemployment crisis.
    •  Deficits Absolutely DON'T MATTER NOW! (5+ / 0-)

      We absolutely need more spending on stimulus investment right now and we need more tax credit incentives for consumers to increase their spending.  That is EXACTLY what John Maynard Keynes advocated and nobody has ever proved him wrong.

      ANY focus on the deficit now is completely wrong!

  •  Krugman has been right again and again (17+ / 0-)

    I just hope his ideas are heeded otherwise it will be 1937 all over again.

  •  "Until Morale Improves The Beatings Will Continue" (6+ / 0-)

    "morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose"

    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.” - Dalai Lama XIV (-9.50; -7.03)‽ Warning - some snark above‽

    by annieli on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:43:16 AM PST

  •  Tax cuts + Spending Cuts = Wealth Transfer (12+ / 0-)

    And the Republican Party is pushing it day and night with their constant refrain "We have a spending problem." It's all about making sure the concentration of wealth continues.

    What we have is an INCOME problem in two parts - the government's expenditures as a share of GDP over the decades since Reagan has stayed roughly the same or even dropped. At the same time, the amount of money coming in to pay for those expenditures has been declining thanks to the Republican obsession with tax cuts. Kevin Drum lays it out very clearly here.

    The facts are pretty clear. Spending isn't our big problem. The recession spike of 2008 aside, it's about the same as it was 30 years ago. But instead of paying for that spending, we've repeatedly cut taxes, which are now at their lowest level in half a century. Tax revenue will go up as the economy improves, but even five years from now it will still be lower than it was when Reagan took office.
    The second part of the INCOME problem is back at ground zero: wages and benefits. Less and less of the GDP goes through wages and benefits; more and more of it comes through investment and ownership. Programs funded by taxes on payrolls end up hurting for money. People who are getting paid less and less of a share of the GDP are being hit by the fact that government has less and less help to give them. Krugman commented on this on his 12/28/12 blog post about Policy Implications of Capital-Biased Technology.
    OK, maybe that was too quick. Let me take it more slowly: a substantial part of our social insurance system — Social Security and the hospital insurance portion of Medicare — is funded through dedicated payroll taxes. If payrolls lag behind overall national income, this will tend to leave those programs underfunded given the way the laws are currently written.

    But America as a whole won’t have gotten poorer: the money is still there to support the programs, it’s just coming in the form of capital rather than labor income. There would be no problem, at least in economic terms, in continuing the programs by adding revenue from general taxation, maybe even from dedicated taxes on capital income.

    We badly need investment in jobs, infrastructure, adapting to climate change, education, and so on. If nothing else, the costs associated with an aging population are going to require more government spending not less, as Drum notes.

    The Republican obsession with cutting taxes and spending is all about making sure they won't be the ones to pay for it - and if starving grannies and crumbling cities are the result, well that's a feature, not a bug. The big money behind the Republican Party will be just fine - and that's all that matters.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:45:06 AM PST

    •  But a big part of the spending gets pissed away in (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zmom, xaxnar, Laconic Lib

      outsized spending on "defense," the "war on drugs," the resulting enormous prison population, and our insanely inefficient health-care system.   What percentage of GDP do Western European countries spend on those things?  What would our economy look like if we spent a reasonable amount on those things and spent the difference on infrastructure, research & development, and education and training?  Why don't we?  What's the Latin: Cui bono? Follow the money.  

      •  And that's it (0+ / 0-)

        Where we are spending money is not doing us much good overall. The Pentagon is at least partially a jobs program - ask anyone if they'd give up the jobs that come from the military base in their area, and you'd see some real reluctance.

        The red states have more than their share of bases, one reason they love military spending.  Then too, let's not forget the military-industrial complex and all the wealth that transfers into the hands of the few.

        The prison problem might actually start to get better, now that we've gotten lead out of gasoline and are no longer raising future brain-damaged criminals. We'll need to do something about the sentencing and policing policies that filled those prisons, and the knee-jerk "tough on crime" politics that go with them.

        Healthcare is an example of real Republican hypocrisy. While they're complaining about the costs of government health care, they're also fighting programs to control costs and doing everything they can to protect the insurance industry from any pain. Medicare buy in, single payer - we may get there yet. We have to do something.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:31:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's not a "problem" (8+ / 0-)

    ..when the results are what was desired all along.

    It's not "kabuki." The long-con is coming along.

    Poor people have too much money and vote too often. Republican platform plank, 1980 - present

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:53:26 AM PST

  •  The fiscal cliff deal is a big victory for Dems, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    815Sox, CNerd

    your fear mongering notwithstanding. The Republican monolithic front has been broken, the seeds of civil warfare within the Republican party are well germinating, the Hastert rule has been broken, the link between middle class tax breaks and upper income tax breaks has been broken.

    He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

    by Sophie Amrain on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:59:18 AM PST

    •  and we have no new revenue source (8+ / 0-)

      and budget cuts looming, because there are no other options. tell us how that works out.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:27:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As Booman says, we have to nurture the (0+ / 0-)

        Republicans that broke with their party on the fiscal cliff and voted with the Dems. Those are precious and need to be pampered so Obama can get some laws passed with their help (which we need in the House, because some defaitist Dems did not vote in 2010:-(

        There are always options. I would look out for those Obama is proposing. They might be reasonable and also achievable. As far as I know he intends to use public opinion to get his deals and he emphasizes balance - which means revenue and spending cuts. Revenue could come from less deductions for wealthy people, maybe get a foreign tax heaven scared, ...

        He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

        by Sophie Amrain on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:32:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  or (0+ / 0-)

          we could refuse to play games, let the gop leadership take us off the curb, watch the polls align solidly behind the dems, watch the gop elders start freaking out, and wait for those wayward republicans to decide to make a deal with the democrats to end the standoff. which they would. on the democrats' terms. for once.

          as i indicate in the post, i have no idea what obama will propose, but we can't afford for him to give in yet again. we have to be very clear about what we want and what is unacceptable. i don't believe leaks and rumors, but i do believe trial balloons will be floated, and i do think it critical that they be popped.

          The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

          by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:38:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You do have a crystal ball? (0+ / 0-)
            we could refuse to play games, let the gop leadership take us off the curb, watch the polls align solidly behind the dems,
            The President needs to be seen as reasonable and compromising all the time, lest the narrative goes against him. So your advice is not safe - and also somewhat callous.
            we have to be very clear about what we want and what is unacceptable
            By all means it is important. It would help, of course, if people would not get high on particular methods (e.g. public option), but could focus on the goals, which they want achieved (increasing coverage). It is rather unlikely, anyhow, that you could give good technical advice to the President...

            Your value is as a bargaining chip for the President. If strong progressive voices are heard during negotiations, he has a stronger negotiating position and may have to sacrifice less to get Republican approval.

            He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

            by Sophie Amrain on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:55:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Bad policy makes bad politics (4+ / 0-)

      ...& once the delayed-fuse Austerity Bomb goes off in a matter of weeks, the now-obvious divisions within the Republican Party will be conveniently papered over as they get Social Security & Medicare handed to them on a silver platter.

      All the Third Way dissembling in the world won't change that.

      Remember Savita Halappanavar!

      by Brown Thrasher on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:34:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  how will Stimulus II be funded? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Laurence Lewis, ferg

      the tax 'increase' on the top 2% isn't going to be enough (it is my understanding).  
      honest question from a math idiot.

      "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

      by kj in missouri on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:06:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wouldn't it be pretty to think so? (0+ / 0-)

      With so many Congressional districts gerrymandered to a scientific nicety, it's going to take a real civil war to get rid of the raging Congressional nihilists before 2012.  

      •  That or a whole lot of local voter insurrections (0+ / 0-)

        dedicated to throwing the incumbent bums out. It would be extremely difficult, but doable - and it would take ONE HOLY HELL OF A LOT MORE COMMITMENT than I have seen from ANYBODY here in the last several years.

        If it's
        Not your body,
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        And it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:38:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Democrats Can Be Heros If They Are Brave (5+ / 0-)

    President Obama and Senator Reid should NOT EVER bring up any supposed cuts on the social safety network programs.  Let the republicans bring up what cuts they want to do, and if any votes are going to be taken it should be a majority of republicans that vote for these cuts.  The republicans are the ones who will own it and the American voters will blame them.  President Obama should not even negotiate at all on cuts without huge revenue.  Republicans want austerity than they should be the ones to own it.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:59:39 AM PST

    •  I've been hoping the Dems are not stupid enough (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mike101

      to propose them first, but then I realize they probably aren't stupid at all...which is even more depressing.

      It feels more like Good Cop/Bad Cop every day.

      If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

      by livjack on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:48:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your analysis is spot on, Lawrence. (4+ / 0-)

    However, as a federal employee, I wish i could be more sanguine about the possibility of a government shutdown in March.  As of 2010, there were 2.65 million federal employees in the United States (not counting the military).  Yes, we have savings, but I still feel very vulnerable here, as unemployment during that period won't cover all of my paycheck and there is no guarantee Congress will vote to retroactively pay us once the shutdown is over.  Older Feds have told me that the shutdowns in the late 90s were a big financial mess.  I'm torn here because, for the good of the country, I hope Obama  doesn't cave here, but for my family's own financial stability, an extended shutdown could be very bad news.  I'm frustrated that no one in the media ever talks about the effects of a shut down on federal employees; it's like we're invisible (not criticizing you, Lawrence, but the Beltway-friendly media in general; I loved your diary!).  I just wish Obama hadn't caved last week when the stakes were lower.  I'm getting tired of being taken as a "hostage".  

    •  You aren't going to be better off (5+ / 0-)

      if he caves on chained CPI and other adjustments to federal pensions in return for no shutdown.   Had a COLA lately?  Just watch them cut the TSP match.  

      It's a long game.  You may have to take some short term pain to avoid a worse deal.

      And unfortunately for the public, it's not just federal employees who suffer.  No work gets done when federal managers are spending all their time trying to figure out contingency budgeting in case of a shutdown.  Can't hire.  Can't contract.  Can't do the job.

      •  that is so very true, greenbell (4+ / 0-)

        Thank you for reminding me of the "long game." :) And yes, excellent points re: ripple effects of federal contracting.  

        I am concerned the TSP match or federal pension will be cut regardless of what happens in the next several months, though.  The RW media has been very successful in spreading the overpaid, underworked govt. employee meme.  Thinking about my federal retirement long-term keeps me up at night.

        Sometimes I wonder if my generation, i.e. young Gen X/Millennials, will be the next generation to be somewhat financially traumatized (like those who lived through the Great Depression) to the point where they are frugal the rest of their lives.  Most ppl I know my age are just getting by even into their mid-30s, and therefore building the frugality habits that last a lifetime and continue even when you have more money.  Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with this of course (except for the anxiety it can produce), but our corporate overlords have really shot themselves in the foot long-term over this "austerity" nonsense, lol.  

        •  Ha! My only salvation may be my frugal mother (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Laurence Lewis, Ramoth

          She was schooled by the depression and lived a very frugal life.  She's nearly 92 and I'm only now truly appreciating the lessons she tried to teach me on avoiding undue risk, debt, etc.  Don't spend the principal and don't sell the farm.  

          I swear between budget cuts and the security insanity the federal government is going to shut down anyway.  I predict it will implode.

    •  i understand (7+ / 0-)

      just remember that when clinton let gingrich do it, he saved social security. for all federal employees, and all who needed them, it was a very hard time, but it was relatively brief, and prevented permanent damage- for them and everyone else.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:26:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Obama won't cave on austerity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis

    Because it would literally destroy his second term before it even started.

    Grover Norquist has openly bragged about how the House Republicans can handcuff Obama over the debt ceiling and forcing spending cuts in continuing resolutions (since the Senate Republicans haven't allowed us to pass an annual budget since 2009).  Is Obama going to say, "sure Grover, you're right, I'll be complicit to destroy my second term that way, as well as setting a precedent that essentially neuters the entire executive branch of government"?  

    Enough happened in the fiscal cliff negotiations to leave a bad taste in a lot of peoples' mouths.  But I think this is different.  Obama's entire legacy is at stake here, and that's why I have to believe he's going to fight this to the end.

  •   Madness and Lies (5+ / 0-)

    Nobody cares about the deficit for the obvious reason that the government could pay it all off tomorrow by simply printing money to do it.  Or the Treasury could issue a $5 Trillion platinum coin tomorrow and we would never hear about the debt ceiling again for the next 4 years.

    How could it be more obvious that our "terrible" national debt is just a meaningless number?

    But ALL the politicians in DC love to play the national debt gambit in order to score political points.  While the voters know that it is BS, it always comes up a winner for anyone who plays the debt card.

    Meanwhile, the annual unemployment rate remains above 8% for the 4th straight year which is the longest since 1942 - 70 years!

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/...

  •  O Pacity. (7+ / 0-)

    The Catfood Commission, "Super Congress" [must be super  idiotic if we take the superlative to its logical end], closed door deal making between BO, Biden, Boehner, McConnell et al........

    All of these things are like the others. Sub rosa manipulation of the gov't. Cliff hangers for policy dorks. What remains is a President, most notably, who doesn't put his cards on the table. We thought we were getting a tax increase on incomes over $250K. But in private we didn't get that. And that's just the obvious stuff. Lots of people didn't even know about the debt ceiling. They have no idea what in the hell the sequester is. The rest of us that sit and wait for any definitive policy position never get it, except from the Republicans. The Democrats are fungible on exactly EVERYTHING.

  •  Kent Conrad opened the door to this (7+ / 0-)

    By holding the reconciliation of the Affordable Care Act hostage until he got the Simpson-Bowles (B-S) commission on the deficit.

    This has been inflicted on America by Blue Dog Democrats.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:07:44 AM PST

  •  Progressive Talking Points Memo (3+ / 0-)

    If there were such a thing this should be top of the list until the sequester deal is hammered out.

  •  and likely prevented a deep depression. For Whom? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis

    You could have fooled me and a lot of other folks that
    are on the brink of dispair. We are still striggling to keep our heads above water and the waterss are still rising where we are. Or don't we count other than at election time?

    When I cannot sing my heart. I can only speak my mind.

    by Unbozo on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:11:39 AM PST

  •  Important diary! Should be required reading (3+ / 0-)

    for Obama and all other Democrats.

    The Republicans are defunding, not defending, America.

    by DSPS owl on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:12:53 AM PST

  •  With respect, this starts with an all 'er nuthin' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CNerd

    premise:

    Let's be clear: No one really cares about the deficit. The Republicans never had any credibility on deficits, and now the Democrats have been playing a similar game. If anyone actually cared about deficits, they'd have let the Bush tax cuts expire, then passed the Obama middle class tax cuts.
    It is a giant leap between "if [we] actually cared about deficits," we would have cured them by every means possible. Or: instead of packaging the cuts and the high bracket increases together, kill all cuts, then reinstitute some? Come again: what's the difference there?

    I'm a Keynesian. I agree completely with the premise that we must deal with a moribund economy and the safety nets within it before we deal with debt repayment. We are a market economy driven by demand. Stimulus uber alles: get the horse in front of the cart.

    But that does not mean that growing deficits and programs that clearly impose huge financial drains on us all (Medicaid!), and the rapidly increasing debt driven by these are not important. It is that they are not the most important things on our plate right now. (And frankly, if the President thinks giving attention to both domestic and military spending gives credibility and running room for what else he wants to do at this point, I'd give him credit for strategy.)

    To my mind, Laurence makes this bundle of issues as black and white - as absolute and fundamental - as do the apocalyptic debt austerity advocates. With respect, we Progressives should be able to accept more subtlety than this!

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:17:55 AM PST

    •  There are many ways of reducing Medicare/Medicaid (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Agathena

      spending without reducing eligibility or care, but they all involve stopping the flow of unnecessary bucks to the drug industry (e.g., government bargaining for reduced prices for mass orders), the med instruments industry (e.g., we have many more MRI machines per capita than other OECD countries with no observable health benefits), the hospital corps (hello Gov. Batboy Megafraud), etc.  Until somebody has the power and will to take on these parasitical vested interests, our budgets will always be massively distorted.

      •  Yes, indeed, and ObamaCare holds out hope ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... to do these things, though that will be diffuse and delayed. (Jesus, will the next round of this thing ever get under way?)

        There are, of course, other ways to address Medicare funding issues:

        -  Increase the Medicare contribution rate (now 1.45% on all wages, no cap) a bit.

        -  And/or, raise or remove the cap on the SS rate (now 6.2% and capped at $110,100) and apply it to Medicare funding.

        These would help firm up funding, not hurt today's recipients and have minimal impact on today's wage earners and employers.

        Of course, raising taxes, even a bit, to do this might incur the wrath of many Progressives as well as the Tea Party conservatives. But let's advocate for some kind of workable Medicare funding in the short term, in counterpoint to the GOP's cuts-slashes-and-burning. (By the way, I put SS funding off the table entirely. That's a downstream problem; there's not even a can to kick yet!)

        2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

        by TRPChicago on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:03:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why won't they work on jobs?? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis, OLinda, slinkerwink, ferg

    And I mean REAL jobs, not some stupid tax cuts that never work to create actual, wage-paying jobs.

    I can only think that they don't really care if the country gets back to work. I KNOW they don't care about people like me who haven't had a job in literally years, and still get no unemployment benefits.

    I don't understand how these people keep getting elected to political offices with their lousy attitudes, but I guess enough people out there have already got theirs, and they don't care enough about the rest of us to allow us the same benefit.

    Until someone actually puts this country back to work, we will continue to falter.

    Why can't they see that?

    "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

    by Brooke In Seattle on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:18:33 AM PST

  •  Excellent diary Laurence (4+ / 0-)

    Thank you.  You have articulated my thoughts exactly.  

    "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

    by gulfgal98 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:21:25 AM PST

  •  This just starts out bad (0+ / 0-)
    To understand just how terrible the fiscal deal is for the Democrats and for the country, you have to start with the realization that we shouldn't even be talking about deficits.
    No, because to understand the fiscal deal, you have to start with the fact of where we would have ended up if no deal had been negotiated:  Payroll taxes go up (which did anyway), income taxes go up on everyone, and we would have had defense and domestic spending cuts (though the domestic cuts aren't as bad as the defense ones).
    The Republicans never had any credibility on deficits
    Except the public, you know, those people who vote, believe that the only people worse for deficits are Democrats.  

    "But the problem with any ideology is that it gives the answer before you look at the evidence." - President Clinton

    by anonevent on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:37:57 AM PST

  •  Tipped & rec'ed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis
  •  thank you, Laurence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis

    my quibbles are with language, "In 2010, we were told we had to extend the Bush tax cuts, or the big bad Republicans would do mean things." (too simplistic, and yes, i understand that could be a "form follows meaning simplicity!) and "buffonish," (for the same reason) but that is editorial / opinion privilege and i accept it as such.

    i will read the diary again, in context with the links provided, and i do agree with these editorial / opinion sentences:

    Because the president himself has validated that opinion. Some of us didn't like moderate Republican policy ideas in the 1980s. Some of us don't like them now.
    If the president finally accepts the confrontation that he has been avoiding for four years, we must have his back. The stakes will be the highest and the pressure immense. But the Republicans must be broken of their will to play economic brinksmanship. It can be done. But if the president doesn't stand up to the Republicans in the coming confrontation, the questions will loom ever larger. For what does this president stand, on economic policy? What does he actually believe? Ultimately, the knowing will be in the doing. Thus far, every confrontation has led to the Democrats ceding ground not only on policy but, even more destructively, on the economic narrative itself. It has to stop.
    i am completely in agreement that NOW is the time to pivot to counter the rightward drift. and i also think progressives can win on the merits of our positions, or we wouldn't have seen the progress on gay rights that we've been in the last decade.  the country, red and blue, has shown a remarkable ability to cull to the wheat and i think it is the job of some of us to keep progressive memes alive and growing.  and fast, while we have some of the fabled 'big mo.'

    "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

    by kj in missouri on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:49:09 AM PST

    •  the country is moving steadily to the left (3+ / 0-)

      and on economic matters even more so. people just want fairness. and this next showdown is critical, for the country, for the party, for this presidency. this game just can't continue, and giving in once again not only will have direct costs, it will ensure that the politics remains the same, and the republicans remain emboldened.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:54:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Deficit hysteria is based on a misunderstanding (5+ / 0-)

    that should be corrected.

    If you listen to deficit hysterics, it's implicit in their argument that over spending and large deficits lead to economic catastrophe.  

    Growing deficits are not a leading indicator or a recession or depression.  They are a trailing indicator.  This can be confirmed by reviewing the size of deficits during the last dozen years.  After inspecting the line items at the subaccount level in the federal government outlays and isolating those which exploded in growth from 2007 to 2011 it becomes very apparent what happened and why.

    It really isn't a mystery.  It's common sense that everyone should see.  The millions of people who fell out of work were affected so that they became eligible for unemployment benefits, food stamps, other income protection benefits.  It ripples out into other programs like Medicaid too.  Items grouped as the cost of the Bush recession account for most of the increase in deficits.  

    On the revenue side, the effect of lost incomes becomes lost income tax revenue making the shortfall bigger.  Those these numbers aren't as visible as line items on amounts spent, it's obvious from the declining percentage for revenue versus GDP and it can be calculated.  

    As the recovery takes hold these problems would recede and the deficit would shrink as a trailing indicator.

    The Republicans have it all backwards, as usual.  

    "Democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ---'Fighting Bob' LaFollette

    by leftreborn on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:51:08 AM PST

  •  Question on healthcare and medicare (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis, ferg

    What is the progressive view (or range of views) at this moment on healthcare spending? Would most progressives agree that the healthcare system in America still needs reform and Obamacare is nowhere near a final answer?

    It seems to me that a lot of what is driving the underlying conflict turns on what to do about spiraling healthcare costs. Republicans want to cap and privatize as a way of controlling costs. In other words, use the market to ration, which means poor and middle class folks go without. Obamacare attempts insurance reform but it probably can only work terribly imperfectly. A true public option is the only way out, but in the current political environment that course seems untenable as a practical matter. We can wish and fight for the disappearance of conservative democrats and T-party, but that is not a political reality at this moment.

    So how should the President manage this issue in a negotiation from practical perspective (in the view of progressives). Are we asking him to embrace a strategy that sets the stage long term for a public option? Are we saying that we do not believe there is really any healthcare spending problem? And is that reality-based?

    The only thing required for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.

    by DavidMCastro on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:09:51 PM PST

    •  many of us agree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DavidMCastro, ferg, Laconic Lib

      that obamacare was just one step, and that we have to end with single payer/medicare for all. for now, i think we have to wait for obamacare to kick in fully, and let people see the results, see how it helps with costs, and then also see how it needs to be furthered. although i would eliminate the erisa 514 loophole, asap.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:15:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  medicaid-for-all (0+ / 0-)

      or some other single payer (or single buyer) health care.

      Long term, we need a single-buyer system to hold down costs. ("monopsony" is the economics term for a customer that is big enough to drive down prices like Medicaid or Walmart.)

      Both Medicare and Medicaid have done better than private health care at holding down costs. If everyone is allowed to buy-in to Medicaid or Medicare, the buying power will hold down costs further.

      Plus, eliminating the 15% waste of the private insurance companies.

  •  The Biggest mistake was the stimulus's name (0+ / 0-)

    Obama shouldn't have called it the "Recovery" and Reinvestment Act, but the Stabilization act.  Because we knew that stabilize the economy would be all it could accomplish (being small), and once that worked, THEN a second round--- the actual recovery--- would be easy to put through.  

    Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

    by nominalize on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:12:52 PM PST

    •  Biggest mistake was it was too small IMO (0+ / 0-)

      but I get your point. Most people do not sit and analyze what is actually in bills like we do.

      "The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian... America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance." The Real Ron Paul

      by 815Sox on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:37:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It was too small for a recovery (0+ / 0-)

        but that's precisely why they should have called it a stabilization.  It would have set the narrative for a second stimulus because it would have met its goal.  Instead, we got a 'recovery' act that failed because its goal was too high.

        Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

        by nominalize on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 08:24:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We are in a "demand crisis" (0+ / 0-)

    because all the money has been sequestered at one end of the economic pool, not because the 99% are satiated.

    The Owners of the Republic party know that this is a "thermodynamically" unstable situation: when all the money is in the hands of a very few, there is a very good chance of policy changes that will take some of it away from them, and distribute it to the many.

    The Owners do not want that. They want the many to starve, or become prison slave labor, or do whatever it is that the many historically do while their feudal lords feast. Hence Austerity. The Owners tell their politicians: Let Them Eat Austerity. The Cupboard is Bare. The Government is Broke. Go pray to Jesus for salvation, and blame that Union guy who still makes enough money to eat. Buy lots of guns and kill each other off. Fear turbans. Fear teh gays. Shoot abortionists. Pay attention to the latest celebrity wardrobe malfunction.

    Just don't even think about taking back any of the money we have stolen from you fair and square, under the rules we wrote.

    •  You know what the many historically do while (0+ / 0-)

      the feudal lords feast.

      They revolt.

      They reach a point when they have nothing left to lose, and they turn on the Owners. Sometimes they lose, sometimes they win, sometimes they just get a new set of Owners. But it's always very, very ugly.

      From "The Causes of Rebellion", by Astra of the Grey Shadows (Ann Cass)

      With a title comes a certain power
      And a much more certain schooling
      A child may play in a castle tower
      But the Lord who does soon sees the hour
      He hasn't a Land worth ruling.

      For there isn't a man but has his doubts
      Of the worth of those that rule him
      But the good ones he will not turn out
      Unless he finds he's pushed about
      Or he thinks they're trying to fool him

      There's many a man in the Lands of the East
      And a few in the West and Middle
      Who hold a Lord sits LAST to Feast
      Thinks FIRST of his men, their lands and beasts
      And THEN of his Pride....a little.

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:50:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  After all that pretzel making (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueness

    ...and highly customized Kos FP Culture analysis -- this is all you got?

    We don't know what will happen over the next 60 days, and maybe the pattern of the last four years finally will be broken....
    You don't know?
    You can't predict the outcome?
    Why not?
    And much more than a presidency and people's hopes will be thrown away. The future of the Democratic Party is at stake, and so is the future of this nation's economy.
    Sounds catastrophic.

    B-b-but -- I thought it was just a "curb":

    And when the Super Congress failed, and a phony imminence was concocted to force a false sense of urgency over a fiscal "curb" that was hyped as a cliff to catastrophe....
    Where do you suppose your disconnect comes from?



    Denial is a drug.

    by Pluto on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:18:56 PM PST

  •  The Democratic Party is never going to change. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laconic Lib

    How many times do Daily Kos liberals have to be rolled by Obama and congressional Democrats before they realize they will never get what they want? We are not their constituency, we never were, we never will be. Wall Street calls the shots.

    Electing better Democrats is a fine idea, but we're never going to create a majority of them - too many districts will never elect a progressive.

    It's well past time for a third party - not the Greens, they have their heads in the clouds, not in the reality of politics.

    •  Agree with you until the mention of Greens (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Laconic Lib

      the only time they have their heads in the clouds is when they are studying the holes in the ozone layer.

      Greens are much more realistic than other parties because they focus on clean air and water that are necessary for life on earth. How basic and how realistic is that?

      Before the DKos cops warn me about talking Green, as a Canadian I am no threat to the two party system of the USA.

      ❧To thine ownself be true

      by Agathena on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:56:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not basic or realistic to the middle aged (0+ / 0-)

        middle class without which Greens can win nothing but urban or university liberal enclaves.  Greens need a clear economic message.  It can be a green economic message but it must be economic first.  What the US really needs is a broadly defined Labor Party.

        •  ecology and economy are intimately tied together (0+ / 0-)

          we can't continue to destroy the ecology in order to boost the economy because the ecology is running out (see McKibben's post). Destroy the ecology and see how important the economy becomes.

          ❧To thine ownself be true

          by Agathena on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:45:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe the Canadian Greens are different (0+ / 0-)

        I'm on a couple of U.S. Green Party e-mail lists. They're idealists with no idea how to build a party, a tendency to go off on tangents, and unrealistic opinions about partisan politics. E.g., members supporting the GOP's plan to award Pennsylvania's Electoral College votes by congressional district, because it will "piss off the Democrats."

  •  you imply there are (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dkosdan

    real cuts in this deal? I thought we got tax hikes on the wealthy?

  •  yes yes Lawurence (0+ / 0-)

    Obama can't do anything right etc etc

    Gods got anything new yet?

  •  Find a majority of Thugs who will vote for more (0+ / 0-)

    spending or your just bloviating here, LL.  

    Sorry LL, but on this you are far off the mark imo.  The Thugs will not cross over to make Ds the de-facto House majority, which is what would happen if they did as you wish.  Indeed, they would not vote against the Speaker, who will enforce the Hastert rule and forbid anything coming to the floor unless a majority of Thugs support it.  They only did it this time bc it was a 'one off' and something like 70% of Senate Thugs voted for it (giving Boehner cover, and even then he barely got re-elected Speaker).  Any R doing otherwise can kiss any committee and other perks goodbye (since most of the R freshmen are tea-jihadists).

    IOW, Thugs are not going to vote for more stim.  Not the Thug majority, and not the 20+ individual Thugs (given likely D defections) needed to discharge any D bill over Boehner's veto.

    Given that, what happened is pretty much the best that could have been gotten, except for things a margins.

    The debt ceiling is different bc it does not require any Thugs voting for more taxes and more spending, just for reality that bills already incurred must be paid.  Which any voter should understand if Ds unite on that simply, true message.

  •  Keynesian economics doesn't work in the long run (0+ / 0-)

    What most folks either overlook or don't understand is that there are costs associated with government that must, eventually, be paid.  Keynesian economics only works when you have a government that lives within its means during the good times, but our government has not done so since LBJ became President with the exception of the one year when Clinton and the Republican Congress actually got their act together.

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